By Charlie Coombs

You've most likely heard of COP26 by now, the latest climate change summit between world leaders set to take place from the end of October into November in Glasgow. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and these usually take place annually — although we’ve had a two-year break due to the pandemic.

COP26 is especially important considering the urgency of the climate crisis. America’s climate envoy John Kerry has called it the "last best hope" for the world to get it together to cut carbon emissions and take measures to adapt to climate change.

Ahead of COP26 — with doubts being cast on how effective the summit will be, and an urgent need for leaders to step up to take action— let’s take a look at some of the biggest milestones in COP’s history. Let’s hope we can add to this list by the end of 2021.

Milestones and Achievements at Previous COP Summits

Here’s a quick look at some of the biggest moments from previous COPs. You can also read more about what leaders must do at COP26 to drive real change, and how you can take action to help make that happen, here

COP 1, Berlin 1995: The very first summit saw major countries and world leaders officially agree to meet every year to discuss climate change and limit emissions. It was a start — though emissions have yet to be fully controlled.

COP 3, Kyoto 1997: This meeting saw the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, which promises to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in industrialised countries. In addition, it established the foundation of the carbon market, in an aim to cut carbon emissions by setting limits on emissions and enabling emission units to be traded.

COP 13, Bali 2007: The Kyoto Protocol to be replaced by the Bali Roadmap, which includes all countries.

COP 15, Copenhagen 2009: Keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius becomes official. Richer nations also pledge to finance developing countries long-term, committing to provide $100 billion a year between 2020 and 2025.

COP 16, Cancún 2010: The Cancún Agreements formalise previous commitments set out in Copenhagen. The Green Climate Fund is also created.

COP 17, Durban 2011: All countries agree to start reducing emissions, including the US, Brazil, China, India, and South Africa. A global agreement that comes into force in 2020 was introduced.

COP 18, Doha 2012: The Kyoto Protocol is extended until 2020. This was not supported by the US, China, Russia, or Canada.

COP 20, Lima 2014: All countries agree to develop and share their commitment to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases for the first time.

COP 21, Paris 2015: The Paris Agreement adopted by all to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius and aim to limit them to 1.5 degrees.

COP 22, Marrakesh 2016: Three documents came from this year’s COP as the Paris Agreement came into force. First was the Marrakesh Action Proclamation, a message of support for the Paris Agreement amid change in the White House. Second was the Marrakesh Partnership to strengthen climate collaboration leading up to 2020, and the third was the first meeting of the CMA, a new decision-making body for the Paris Agreement made up of the group of countries who have signed and ratified the Paris Agreement. 

COP 23, Bonn 2017: Progress was made on how the Paris Agreement will work in practice. A new process allowing countries to share experiences and good practices called the Talanoa Dialogue was created. A Gender Action Plan was also brought in to ensure women were involved in decisions relating to climate change solutions.

COP 24, Katowice 2018: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes a report two months before the summit that analyses the impact of a 1.5 degree global temperature increase, pushing for greater urgency to reduce emissions.


Defend the Planet

What Are the Biggest Achievements From Previous COP Climate Summits?